Next-gen Volvo XC90 – Everything we know in January 2022

Update – ‘Volvo Recharge models gain popularity worldwide’ section updated.

There is not a single image of the third-gen Volvo XC90 (codename: Volvo V536) on the web, nothing from its road testing, but it is still likely to enter production this year. And unlike the current-gen model, it will be American-made. Volvo Cars will offer electrification in the next-gen XC90 across the range, as we discuss in this story.

The next-gen Volvo XC90 will be the first SPA2 platform model. Volvo Cars says that the 2022 XC90 will feature state-of-the-art sensors, including LiDAR tech from Luminar and an autonomous driving computer with the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin SoC as standard. The next-gen XC90 will include backup systems for main functions such as steering and braking.

The 2022 Volvo XC90 will feature LiDAR tech and AI-driven supercomputer as standard. Image Source: Volvo Cars

Dual platform strategy

The SPA platform that debuted in the second-gen Volvo XC90 back in 2014 is there to stay, although Volvo will thoroughly upgrade it for the next-gen models. Called SPA2, the upgraded SPA platform will be ready for complete electrification.

Volvo is building the SPA2 platform with two unique floor assemblies, one for the hybrid models like the next-gen XC90 that partially run on fossil fuel and one for the fully electric models like the production version of the Volvo Recharge Concept. Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer, Volvo Cars, revealed the new development to Green Car Reports in March 2021. Green said Volvo plans to manufacture the floors in parallel on separate lines.

One floor is built around the flat battery with an e-machine in front and rear, very much the skateboard approach that you see pure electric vehicles are built on today. And there is another floor which is completely different, built with a combustion engine in the front, the prop shaft, an exhaust system, a fuel tank in the rear.

Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer, Volvo Cars
Upcoming Volvo electric cars including 2022 Volvo XC90
The next-gen Volvo XC90 will sit on the basic version of the SPA2 platform, while its electric sibling (to use a different name) will ride on a skateboard platform. Image: Volvo Cars

Electrified Engines

As per a report from teknikensvarld.se, we learn that Volvo will offer the next-gen XC90 in “B” mild-hybrid, “T” plug-in hybrid, and “P” pure electric variants. The pure-electric variant would be assigned a different name, and will not be branded as part of the XC90 family. It could be called the Volvo Embla.

Level 4 Autonomous driving with ‘Sentinel’

In addition to three-row seating and a host of new safety systems that make it a practical family SUV, the 2022 Volvo XC90 will boast highly autonomous driving assistance systems. Reports suggest that it will approach Level 4 autonomous driving, which is the first level of fully automated driving. In SAE Level 4, the vehicle can handle itself in most driving situations without input from the driver. The driver can rest or read a book, as he wouldn’t have to hold the steering.

The vehicle will demand large amounts of computing power for the smooth and safe functioning of its highly advanced autonomous driving technologies. The NVIDIA DRIVE Orin system-on-a-chip is capable of 254 tera operations per second (TOPS).

The NVIDIA DRIVE Orin-powered computer will work together with software developed by Volvo Cars and Zenseact. The sensor suites required for autonomous driving, such as the LiDAR technology developed by Luminar, are enabled by NVIDIA DRIVE Orin’s added computing power and graphics processing. Zenseact is an entity of Volvo Cars that focuses on autonomous driving systems and active safety software. Sentinel is expected to make vehicles equipped with it capable of Level 4 autonomous driving. At launch, the area operation could be limited to highways, though.

Luminar LIDAR Volvo SPA2
The 2022 Volvo XC90 will feature next-generation autonomous driving systems. 5G and LiDAR technologies would be used for the advanced driver assistance systems. Image: Volvo Cars

Luminar is a tech firm well-known for its LiDAR technology, partnering with Volvo Cars for the self-driving technology of its next-gen models since May 2020.

Luminar and Zenseact have partnered to produce a new autonomous driving system called Sentinel, and according to a Forbes report dated March 11, 2021, Sentinel will debut in the 2022 Volvo XC90 before spreading to other Volvo cars. Forbes reported that at the launch, Volvo, Luminar and Zenseact are activating highway driving capability where the 2022 Volvo XC90 can drive autonomously at highway speeds (at 60-70 mph) putting it far ahead of L3 systems of other car companies which are capped at 30-37 mph.

Volvo Cars’ announcement, however, stated ‘Highway Pilot’ as the name of the upcoming autonomous driving feature. The company said that the SPA2 platform models would be hardware-ready for autonomous drive right from the beginning, and the hands-free functions will be activated when the time is right.

Dimensions & Seating

The next-gen Volvo XC90 will be longer than 5 meters (196.9 inches), as per Teknikensvarld. For reference, the current model measures 195 inches in length. The usage of lightweight materials like aluminum and carbon fiber will keep the weight of the next-gen model’s body in check. Customers will have a wide range of seating configuration choices: 1+2, 2+2, 2+3, 2+2+2, and 2+3+2.

Android infotainment system

Volvo Cars will build the next-gen XC90’s infotainment system on the Android Automotive OS, referred to as Android OS. The company started employing Android OS-based infotainment systems in 2019, beginning with the XC40 Recharge.

Volvo Recharge Concept instrument cluster infotainment cockpit
The incoming Volvo XC90 will feature an improved infotainment system running on Google’s Android Automotive OS. Image Source: Volvo Cars

Compared to the current-gen XC90’s infotainment system, the Android-powered experience should be snappier, intuitive, and offer more connectivity. It would have Google apps and services like Google Play, Google Maps, and Google Assistant. Customers can personalize their in-car experience using hundreds of apps by Volvo Cars, Google, or third-party developers. OTA software updates will allow them to keep their vehicle evolving and improving over time. Expect an all-new digital instrument cluster as well, one that works more harmoniously with the central screen.

The picture above shows the cockpit of the new pure-electric Volvo SUV that will get incorporate a new vehicle software platform called VolvoCars.OS. Android Automotive OS will be a part of this umbrella of multiple operating systems in the all-electric SUV.

2022 Volvo XC90 Production & Release Date

Unlike the current XC90, manufactured in Europe, the next-gen 2022 Volvo XC90 will roll out of the American plant located in Ridgeville, South Carolina. Production and U.S. launch of the hybrid variants could begin in late-2022, although premiere and production dates could be largely influenced by the situation with the semiconductor chips. The Volvo Cars South Carolina Factory will become the first plant of the company worldwide to manufacture only EVs later this decade. That’s a confirmation straight from Hakan Samuelsson, CEO, Volvo Cars.

Volvo Recharge models gain popularity worldwide

Volvo Cars says that the demand for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and pure electric vehicles, which it markets as Recharge models, is rising. Europe, particularly, is accelerating the adoption of Volvo Recharge models. In 2021, Volvo sold 130,557 Recharge vehicles in Europe, compared to 89,951 vehicles in 2020, marking a growth of 45.1 percent.

The share of Volvo Recharge cars in the company’s global sales in 2021 was an all-time high of 27 percent.

Coming to the U.S., the Recharge plug-in hybrid and pure electric variants may have a significant share in the sales of the next-gen XC90. Volvo Cars says that the share of plug-in models is continuing to grow in the country. In 2021, Volvo sold 22,820 units of Recharge vehicles, compared to just 7,251 vehicles in 2020, a growth of 214.7 percent.

The XC90 is the third best-selling Volvo car worldwide, with sales of 108,231 units in 2021.

2022 Volvo XC90 FAQs

What is the new Volvo XC90 release date?

The next-gen Volvo XC90 should debut in the second half of the year and go on sale shortly after.

Which models will the 2022 Volvo XC90 compete with?

The 2022 Volvo XC90 alternatives will include the likes of BMW X5, Audi Q7, and Mercedes GLE.

What will be the new Volvo XC90 price?

Volvo Cars may price the next-gen XC90 from USD 50,000 or a little higher.

Featured Image Source: Volvo